Series VPRS 12758
Index Map Book
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series By 1990 - ? 1990
  Series in Custody By 1990 - 2013
  Contents Circa 1990 - Circa 1990
Public Access: Part Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical/Digital
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1990 - 1990 Melbourne Water Corporation [known as Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works to 1992] VA 1007
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1990 - cont Melbourne Water Corporation [known as Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works to 1992] VA 1007
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    This book has been digitised and can be viewed online. Browse to the P5 consignment and download the book's index page to start your search.

    The following is a quick reference guide to the numbers you'll see on every page other than the index page of this book, and the detailed records to which they lead:

    Small diagonal blue numbers bounded with a thin blue line:
    eg 5032 = VPRS 8601/P2 Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1 numeric 1889-1970

    Page number, Red Circled Grid number, Grid Alpha (template in centre of page)
    eg 4E 11 A = VPRS 8602/P2 Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1 alpha-numeric 1950-1978

    Large Blue numbers bounded with a darker blue line:
    eg 480 = VPRS 8604/P2 Record Plans 160'=1 numeric c1890-c1950

    Note: Page number and Red Circled Grid Number
    eg 6F 17 = VPRS 8605/P2 Record Plans 160'=1 alpha-numeric c1950-c1970

    Plan number and Green Circled Grid with compass directions
    eg 111 NW = 8607/P2 Record Plans 200'=1 c1960-c1970

    The rest of these instructions give an overview of the use of the Index Map Book:

    This series provides access to several other series of plans, survey field and level books. Large scale plans known as Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1" Numeric (VPRS 8601) and Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1" Alpha-numeric (VPRS 8602) provide the most information, but plans of lesser scales can also be identified from the index map. Detail Plans index the survey field and level books and researchers interested in these records initially need to identify the relevant Detail Plan.

    Headings in the section below explain the processes required to access the different series.

    Detailed Plans 40' to 1" (480:1)

    To gain access to the Detail Plans:

    1. The first page of the Index Map Book is an index to plans. The Index consists of a map of the Melbourne metropolitan area by municipality, and is overlayed with a grid. The grid contains a number and letter reference (e.g., 11E). The grid reference is to a page within the Book. (Pages are numbered 9A, 9B, 9C, etc.)

    2. To identify the relevant plan, researchers will need to identify the grid reference for exact location of the suburb or street required. (It may be necessary to refer to a Melways map available from the reference desk.) For example parts of Richmond can be found on grid references 10E, 10F, 9E and 9F.

    3. Note the relevant grid reference for the suburb of interest.

    4. Turn to the page in the Index Map Book and locate the street(s) / area of interest.

    5. Note the Detail Plan [DP] or other relevant plan reference(s) for the area or street. The references may be circled, double circled or without circles.

    * Early DP references are the small uncircled numbers. Note the number and refer to VPRS 8601.

    * For the later DP references note the Page reference, circled single number grid reference, and grid section alpha (eg 4G 1 A) and refer to VPRS 8602 (also refer to Plans Not Otherwise Classified VPRS 8608/P3).

    6. In the 1960s, plans were filmed. Researchers should request the appropriate negative of the plan from the relevant series within the Record Description List. On retrieving the negative researcher may find three negatives one purple and two others. One of the two is usually a negative of an early version of the lithograph of the DP and the other a later sewerage plan version of the DP. The purple negative is of the later version. The sewerage plan version contains references to field books and level books (refer to section on Field Books below).

    Record Plans 160' to 1" (1:500)

    Refer to steps 1 to 4 of Detail Plans above. The plan references may be circled, double circled or without circles.

    * To access early plans note the large uncircled reference numbers and refer to VPRS 8604.

    * For later plans note the page reference and circled single number (eg 6F 17) and refer to VPRS 8605.

    * Request the appropriate negative of the plan from the relevant series within the Records Description List.

    Contour / Miscellaneous Plans (Including some DPs)

    To access 200' to 1" (2400:1) plans, refer to steps 1 to 4 of Detail Plans above.

    * Note the circled reference number with a direction (eg 111 NW) and refer to VPRS 8607.

    * Request the appropriate negative of the plan from the relevant series within the Records Description List

    To access 40' to 1" (480:1) Miscellaneous DP & Contour Plans, refer to steps 1 to 4 of detail plans above.

    * Note the page reference, single number grid reference (and for detail plans, the alpha reference) and refer to VPRS 8608/P3.

    * Request the appropriate negative of the plan from the relevant series within the Records Description List.

    Plans: Not otherwise Classified -Topographic Maps & Base Plans 400' to 1" (480:1)

    Refer to the Index to Melbourne Metropolitan Area Base Map Series on the second page of the Index Map Book.

    * Note the single number grid reference under the transparency
    * Refer to VPRS 8608/P1 to determine if the plan is in custody
    * Request original plan

    Survey Field Books / Level Books

    Complete steps 1-6 above for references to Detail Plans 40' to1" (480:1) in either VPRS 8601 or 8602. Survey Books and Level Books details are generally recorded in a rectangle, or on the side edge of the plan, and usually headed Field Books or FB and Level Books or LB. (Later amendments to properties are also recorded on the side edge of the page, and include the book number, page number for the nominated property.)
    Researches should:

    1. Note the relevant Field Book / Level Books number(s) and (if provided) the page number from the legend.

    2. Retrieve the field book(s) from VPRS 8600 Survey Field Books or VPRS 8599 Level Books and examine it for indexing (particularly if the research relates to the 1892 block survey.

    3. Turn to the relevant page within the Field Book / Level Book.

    If no page number is provided on the DP legend, or if there is no indexing of the Field Book, researchers will have to examine the book page by page.

  • Function / Content
    In 1892 the recently formed MMBW had contractors survey Melbourne as part of the task of establishing the metropolitan sewerage system. The survey fixed the location of structures within allotments and the associated levels.

    As a result of the survey a number of different types of records were created that documented the urban structure at the time and for the next 80 years. As the record system was understood in 2000, the systems major elements were:

    * Survey field books books used by surveyors to record their field observations.

    * Survey level books books that record levels above and below a datum point.

    * One inch to forty feet plans and their metric successors used for the location of structures and the sewerage system (including Detail Plans [DP], Sewerage Plans and Property Service plans). Lithographic copies of the forty feet to one inch plans were produced for distribution and working purposes and, later, plate photographic negatives of the DP and sewerage plans were made. Microfilm copies of house connections files containing Property Service plans were made in the 1970s and the 1980s.

    * Plans of other scales.
    * Index maps maps that index other maps and plans.

  • Recordkeeping System
    General Process

    The survey upon which the MMBWs plans were initially based was contracted to surveyors as the MMBWs surveyors workload did not permit them to do the survey.

    After surveying an area contractors submitted their field and level books to the MMBW for the draughting of plans and checking. The surveyors field and level books (VPRS 8600 and VPRS 8599 respectively) provide the primary information for the plans.

    When the initial 1890s Block Survey was complete MMBW continued to survey new structures and changes in existing structures when these works affected the MMBW system. These changes to the urban environment were draughted onto the initial plans that MMBW had created. The plans of the Block Surveys, now known as Detail Plans [DP], were drawn to a scale of one inch to forty feet. (Later, with the advent of metric measurement, these became 1:500 scale drawings.)

    Survey Field Books

    As their name suggests surveyors used these books in the field to record the observations and measurements that they made in the course of a survey.

    There appears to have been two major series of Field Books created in the MMBW. One series of these is largely in PROV custody as VPRS 8600. This series relates to the Block and house surveys that the MMBW performed from 1892; books from the other series have not been located (September 2000) but their existence has been deduced from references on sewerage plans to field book numbers with an O prefix. The latter are not part of VPRS 8600 and research needs to be done to identify them and the purpose of the survey they document.

    Field books (VPRS 8600) used for the purposes of the MMBWs Block Survey located properties and their connections to the sewerage and drainage system. The books contain the surveyors drawings of streets and properties, measurements and angles. The drawings include information about the structure (brick or timber) and can include features such as the name of the owner of a property, name of a property, features of yards and gardens and the measurement information necessary for the survey. As well as tenements they show fence, drainage, cutting, embankment street channel, drainage pit, underground drain and bridge information for transfer to the Detail Plan.

    When the contractor had completed his survey the survey was checked by another survey performed, presumably, by a Board surveyor. It is not known (September 2000) whether the check survey repeated the whole of the contractors survey, portion of the contractors survey chosen according to some pre-determined criteria or at random or because some aspect of the initial survey required verification. In doing the check survey the surveyor may have recorded different features of a property than those recorded by the original survey.

    Early field books often contain indexes (either visual or text based) that identify the pages of the book where the surveyor drew particular sections of a streetscape. Otherwise, unless the DP provides a page reference (as it often does), each page of the book has to be examined to locate the survey of a particular property or part of a street.

    The continuous, iterative and linear nature of the survey - draughting process meant that field books for contiguous areas of Melbourne were not sequential. Moreover, after the initial survey, field books used in the Block Survey were re-issued for surveys of individual houses as they were connected to the system or alterations made that affected the house connection. Consequently, properties that are widely separated geographically might be located on sequential pages of a field book.

    Survey Level Books

    These recorded the levels at various points in a survey. Their content consists of tables showing heights above a datum point. The datum for levelling (the MMBW datum) was determined in 1884 to relate to the mean low water spring tides at the Williamstown Time Ball Tower. This datum was used for Imperial levelling until 1971 when metric Australian Height Datum values were adopted.

    These books require further research.

    Detail Plans (DP)

    Until 1978 Detail Plans were drawn from the survey field books to a one inch to forty feet (1:480) scale. In 1978 the Imperial scale was change to a metric equivalent scale of 1:500. Until the late 1960s, when the Board introduced a transparent base material, the Imperial scale plans were drawn on heavy Whatman paper (mounted with a linen backing) on an overall map sheet size of 50 inches x 30 inches.

    Until 1953 the ground dimensions and area covered by each plan varied according to street pattern. Hence, the pattern of streets in a neighbourhood decided the size of the detailed area of a plan. In 1953 the Board adopted a plane rectangular grid system based on the zone 0 traverse mercator system to replace the previous street pattern system. The ground dimensions of each map were standardised at 1600 feet x 800 feet and the area covered by the maps at 29.385 acres. Spot heights are shown to two decimal places of one foot throughout the period from 1892.

    The earlier of the DP arrangements was a running number sequence of plans starting at one and going to plan 5032. This sequence may not have been the first arrangement indexed as some evidence suggests that some of the DPs may have had different single numbers to those that they now bear; however, this assumption is by no means certain. If there was a different arrangement of the DPs in 1892 the evidence points to it as not lasting for long as references in the field books establish the early identity of the single number DPs. This single number sequence lasted until 1953 when the MMBW grided Melbourne on an alpha-numeric arrangement.

    The alpha-numeric grid was not changed with the transition from imperial to metric measurements nor, as far as is known in September 2000, were the plan numbers for the imperial plans that had been draughted by then and covered a large portion of Melbourne. Alpha-numeric DPs were draughted for outer suburban areas as they were sewered but the evidence suggests that, although policy was to convert the older areas to the new alpha-numeric system, little progress was made in drawing plans in the new system for the older suburbs.

    The drawings show information about the structure (brick or timber) of tenements derived from the field and level book and many other details. They can include features such as the name of the owner of a building, name of a building, features of yards and gardens and the measurement information necessary for the survey. As well as buildings they show fence, drainage, cutting, embankment street channel, drainage pit, underground drain and bridge information and spot heights. However, with the growth of Melbourne after 1945 the demand for mapping caused less and less detail to be provided until, eventually, in some plans, details of buildings are not shown.

    DPs were the basis for the lithographic prints (known as Lithos) copies of which were later held by the State Library of Victoria and the University of Melbourne architectural school. While further research is needed it is believed that the sewerage plan was a linen mounted lithographed copy of the DP. It is believed other lithographed copies were distributed to municipalities within the Boards area as well as being for sale.

    The DP is distinguished from its lithographic print by the information that it gives on structures and the source of its detail. On the DP the numbers of the field book and level book containing the original survey of a block are recorded in a rectangle located on the top right hand side of the plan. The field book used for the check survey is also shown on this shield. Subsequent alterations that led to alterations to a property connection and, consequently, to the DP plan were recorded in a legend on the side of the plan. This information is not available on lithograph copies distributed outside the Board.

    Both sewerage plans and property service plans are to the same 1:480 scale as the DP. Sewerage plans showed the sewerage reticulation within the detail plan area of several suburban blocks while the property service plans showed the MMBW connections to a particular property. Property service files were microfilmed from about 1972 to about 1987 when the technology was replaced.

    At some point in their history the 1:480 and 1:500 area plans (with sets of plans of other scales) were photographed (other than the photographs taken for the photolithographic process) and a 6 inch x 4 inch negative produced. By 1999 Melbourne Water Corporation had the negatives arranged in the same sequences as the plans from which they were derived i.e. by scale and by registration system. For the 1:480 and 1:500 negatives a particular plan reference will usually contain three negatives (and occasionally more). One negative will be that of a DP plan and another that of a sewerage plan. Showing less building in an area, the former of these is often a negative of an earlier plan than that showing the sewerage connection. Both negatives should be examined. A third negative of a purple tint will usually be of the sewerage plan. Field book and level book references can be obtained from the negative of the DP. Further research is required into the history of these and the negatives of the other plans.

    MMBW transferred plans of 1:480 and 1:500 scale to PROV as VPRS 8601/P1, VPRS 8602/P1, VPRS 8608/P2 (which appear be similar to VPRS 8602, further research is required), VPRS 8608/P3, VPRS 8608/P5, VPRS 8608/P7, and VPRS 8609/P25. This arrangement reflected the dispersal of the plans in the archives plan room and the record managers knowledge of their history and arrangement at the time of transfer. The nature of the plans in the various series-consignments requires further research, although VPRS 8608/P2 has been tentatively identified as a set of early general design drawings and the plans in VPRS 8608/P5 appears to be those from which lithographs were made. Of the series-consignments, VPRS 8601/P1, VPRS 8602/P1 and VPRS 8608/P3 are consignments of plans that Board officers would immediately recognise as DP plans.

    Plans of other scales

    Plans of other scales to the DPs were also drawn. The scales included 160 feet to one inch, 200 feet to one inch, 400 feet to one inch (and their metric equivalents). At the time of writing (September 2000) the original 160 feet to one inch plans are located in VPRS 8604/P1 and VPRS 8605/P1. Photographic negatives of the plans of these other scales should be used. The purpose of these other scales has to be researched.

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Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Controlled SeriesControlled Series
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
1890 - 1950 Record Plans 160'=1" Numeric VPRS 8604
1891 - 1950 Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1" Numeric VPRS 8601
1950 - 1970 Detailed Base Plans [DP] 40'=1" Alpha-numeric VPRS 8602
1950 - 1970 Record Plans 160'=1" Alpha-numeric VPRS 8605
1950 - 1990 Plans : Not Otherwise Classified VPRS 8608
1960 - 1970 Record Plans 200'=1" VPRS 8607
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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0002 By 1990 - Circa 1990 Open 2
P0004 By 1990 - Circa 1990 Closed 0
P0005 1990 - 1990 Open N/A
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